Is Mitt Romney really gaining ground among women?

A new poll shows Mitt Romney has improved his ratings among women, while President Obama has lost ground. Both men now have higher unfavorable ratings than favorable overall. 

Evan Vucci/AP
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, leave the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after services on Sunday in Wolfeboro, N.H.

We won’t know for a while whether the conventions have had any real impact on the overall trajectory of the race. But for now, certain polls are showing some interesting – and, if the numbers are to be believed, startling – fluctuations.

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll out Wednesday showed that Mitt Romney has gained some ground in his overall favorability ratings, while President Obama has lost ground. For a poll taken on the heels of the Republican convention, that’s pretty much to be expected. Raising eyebrows, however, is what’s driving Mr. Romney’s gains – namely, support from women voters.

According to the poll, Romney gained 7 points in favorability among women voters in the week following the GOP convention. Mr. Obama, by contrast, has seen his favorability rating among women fall by 11 points since April.

Overall, both men are now viewed more unfavorably than favorably, with the president’s 47-49 favorable-unfavorable rating still slightly ahead of Romney’s 40-47 percent rating. But Romney’s numbers represent an improvement, while the president’s represent a decline.

Now, obviously, this all may change in the wake of the Democratic convention, which just began Tuesday night.

And the ABC/Post numbers may simply be an aberration. Throughout most of this campaign, Obama has enjoyed a fairly hefty advantage among women – indeed, much of the talk among the chattering class this cycle has been about his deficit among men.

Still, a different ABC News/Washington Post poll last week showed Obama’s overall lead among women voters was down to just 6 percentage points. (By contrast, in 2008, Obama won women by 13 percentage points.)

It’s especially striking given how hard the Obama campaign has been working to cultivate women’s votes. This week’s Democratic convention has featured a number of women speakers talking about issues like reproductive rights.

On the lineup Wednesday: Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, and Sandra Fluke, a former Georgetown Law student who gained national prominence when Rush Limbaugh called her a “slut” after she testified in favor of requiring insurance companies to cover birth control.

The campaign has made a concerted effort to paint Republicans as out of touch on women’s issues, seizing on comments like those of GOP Rep. Todd “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down” Akin.

Perhaps in the end, the effort has all been a bit too heavy handed? Or maybe Ann Romney really did win over a lot of women with her speech – proving the Romney campaign is correct in its assertion that what women really care about is the economy? On the other hand, maybe the polls are just wrong. We’ll know more in coming days. But for now, it’s an intriguing blip.

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